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Flash Memory

Flash memory is different from typical random access memory (RAM) in that it is a non-volatile computer memory type. This means that even when there is no power to the flash device, it does not lose its data. It is used in many modern applications, such as:
  • USB Flash Drives
  • Personal Data Assistants (PDAs)
  • Laptop Computers
  • Digital Audio Players
  • Digital Camcorders
  • Mobile Phones

History of Flash Memory

Flash memory was invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while working for Toshiba circa 1980. According to Toshiba, the name "flash" was suggested by Dr. Masuoka's colleague, Mr. Shoji Ariizumi, because the erasure process of the memory contents reminded him of the flash of a camera. Dr. Masuoka presented the invention at the IEEE 1984 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) held in San Francisco, California.

Intel saw the massive potential of the invention and introduced the first commercial NOR type flash chip in 1988. NOR-based flash has long erase and write times, but provides full address and data buses, allowing random access to any memory location. This makes it a suitable replacement for older ROM chips, which are used to store program code that rarely needs to be updated, such as a computer's BIOS or the firmware of set-top boxes. Its endurance is 10,000 to 1,000,000 erase cycles. NOR-based flash was the basis of early flash-based removable media; CompactFlash was originally based on it, though later cards moved to less expensive NAND flash.

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